There is a degree to which patriotism is every bit as awful as terrorism, and that is what was proven in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Like many who grew up in and around New York, I knew people who perished and people who were there but escaped death. I also had the immediate feeling, once the reality of the situation began to set in late in the afternoon, that it was something that would bring out the very worst in everyone.
Aaron Rosenblum and I had driven past the towers the night before, dropping friends off in Queens on a return trip from Chicago where we’d played some shows with our band Shackamaxon. We awoke the next morning in Western Massachusetts to the chaos on the television.
On the day of the attacks, Noam Chomsky offered up this sobering observation: “The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale, they may not reach the level of many others – for example, Clinton’s bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people.” Six days ago, Chomsky presented an even further-implicating statement, unrelated but related: “The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.”
And tonight I feel somehow moved to comment on these events which are far beyond my comprehension, but in no way beyond my understanding of that which this wretched species of ours is capable. I also happen to be working on a set of liner notes for a reissue of Loren Connors’ Airs, an album recorded two years prior to the events at the World Trade Center. Nearly every public response to the attacks has in some way seemed suspect to me, never quite hit the mark of what it was like to live through that foreboding time.
Loren Connors recorded this piece on that night, and the sorrow one hears is not all that different from the sorrow that exists in much of his music. Stylistically it is not all that different from the music I am trying to write about that exists on Airs. Loren’s music recognizes a strain of lament that can be applied to the entirety of life. When a seismic tragedy struck close to home, he knew just what to play.